In the movies, breaking into a computer is usually an easy matter. The typical computer intrusion, as depicted by Hollywood, involves one character guessing another's password. Although password security is important, cracking a password is not the only method of attack. This chapter begins with a look at common methods of attack, such as social engineering, exploiting buggy software, and abusing physical access to a computer. This chapter then describes steps you can take to help secure your system. These steps include the proper selection of passwords, so movie-style villains can't get in on the third try, as they invariably do. Other steps involve removing unnecessary servers and keeping your software up-to-date. Chapter 21, "Detecting Intruders," covers another important security topic—discovering when intruders manage to break into your system. As you read this chapter, remember that security is best applied in layers, so that if one security measure doesn't stop an intruder, another may do the job.

Computer security is an extremely complex topic, and this chapter can provide just an introduction to the perils and the defenses available. For more information, consult a book on Linux security, such as Hontanon's Linux Security (Sybex, 2001) or Hatch's Hacking Linux Exposed, 2nd Edition (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, 2002). Note that specific security threats can change very rapidly, but the basic principles involved in securing a system remain constant over time.

Team LiB

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